Immunology & Cancer (IC) track



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Why should you study Immunology and Cancer at UNIL ?
  • Infections and immune disorders are major causes of death and disability globally, emphasising the need for new vaccines and treatments.
  • Cancer is the leading cause of death in wealthy nations, necessitating improved therapies.
  • The UNIL campus in Epalinges hosts one of Europe’s biggest centers dedicated to immunology and oncology research.
  • UNIL offers comprehensive teaching and training programs in immunology and oncology at the Bachelor, Master, and PhD levels.
  • Graduates with training in immunology and oncology are well-positioned to compete for job opportunities in academia and industry.
Where ?


CIIL: Center of Immunity and Infection Lausanne-­Epalinges. At the north terminus of the M2 metro line (Croisettes).


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© Fondation ISREC

Under one roof : Department of Immunobiology, CHUV Research labs and Department of Oncology

  • About 300 scientists
  • More than 40 research groups
  • International and dynamic atmosphere
  • Seminars and lectures by world-leading scientists
  • State-of-the-art equipment and core facilities

Open since 2019: Agora translational cancer research center (on the hospital site / CHUV-Bugnon) with an additional 300 scientists and clinicians.



Specific training objectives

At the end of the course students will be able to:

  • Mobilise theoretical and practical knowledge in immunology and oncology.
  • Systematically analyse fundamental and clinical problems in immunology and cancer biology, including diseases related to the immune system or cell transformation, drug development and treatments.
  • Apply modern research techniques in immunology and oncology to solve cutting edge research questions.
Structure of the study plan


1st Semester: Overview of basic concepts as well as in depth lectures

Immunology (12h):

  • Innate immunity by Prof. W.Held
  • Adaptive immunity by Prof. S.Luther

  Biology of Cancer (12h):

  • Clinical aspects by Prof. N. Rufer
  • Molecular aspects by Prof. F. Martinon

First step research projects : A wide and diverse choice of laboratories (List of host labs)

2nd Semester:  Lectures

  • In-depth coverage of selected aspects of immunology and cancer
  • Focus on autoimmune diseases, infections and vaccines
  • Another focus on cancer types and cancer therapies
  • Drug development in oncology

  Practical work :

Molecular and cellular biology (mass spectrometry and peptide-based cellular assays), whole tissue analysis (advanced flow cytometry and virtual histological analysis), writing and defending a grant proposal for your Master project.

For more information, please consult the Plan of Study and detailed Courses schedules.
Listen to what a past student had to say about our course.

3rd Semester: Learn to work at the bench and within a team.

Discover the fascinating world of ‘research’ where you test a novel hypothesis, venture into the unknown and try to expand our current knowledge on that topic. You can find all host laboratories here.

Acquired skills
  • Critically evaluate scientific articles and experimental data
  • Identify biologically relevant questions based on scientific literature
  • Plan and conduct meaningful experiments
  • Perform data analysis
  • Present and discuss experimental data
  • Draft a grant proposal, poster and thesis in English
  • Work independently as well as in a team
  • Manage and conduct a research project

These skills have broad applicability across various professions in your future career.

Career perspectives

UNIL PhD program in Cancer and Immunology

Academic career: Basic research, Translational research, Clinical research (in immunology, infectious diseases, vaccinology, cancer), Teaching of biological sciences and biomedical sciences

Non-academic field: Research in the industry, Science Management, Granting agencies, Scientific journals, Regulation agencies, Patents, Clinical trials, Finances/Investment banking


We provide excellent training, inspire a passion for research, and equip you with the best tools for securing an exciting job!



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Prof. Julia Esser-von Bieren
Dpt. of Immunobiology

In charge of the Immunology & Cancer track

Office F506
Ch. des Boveresses 155
1066 Epalinges

Tel. +41 21 692 57 23

For any administrative question (e.g. registration, equivalencies, etc.) : please contact the School of Biology.

CH-1015 Lausanne
Tel. +41 21 692 40 10
Fax +41 21 692 40 05